The family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe hailed Iranian reports that a £400m (€459m) deal had been secured for her release as a “good sign” yesterday, as the UK insisted talks were still continuing.
ranian state media claimed yesterday that Tehran had struck a deal in which London would repay a 1970s arms debt to secure her freedom.
“The release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in exchange for the UK’s payment of its £400m debt to Iran has… been finalised,” an Iranian official said.
Richard Ratcliffe, Ms Zaghari Ratcliffe’s husband, said the family had not yet heard anything from London or Tehran. “It’s probably a good sign that it’s being signalled, just as last week’s sentence was a bad sign. But my instinct is it is still a negotiating tactic,” he said. He added: “It doesn’t feel like things are resolved yet, even if the parameters are clearer and clearer.”
Referring to the debt, a UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “We continue to explore options to resolve this 40-year-old case and will not comment further as discussions are ongoing.”
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has already completed a five-year prison sentence in Iran over dubious spying charges. She was sentenced to an additional year in prison last week on charges of plotting to overthrow the Islamic republic, which she strongly denies.
The fresh sentence came after a UK high court hearing to resolve the £400m debt payment was postponed without explanation. UK sources said last night the trial had been delayed at the request of the Iranian ministry of defence.
Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary, will hold a meeting with Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, tomorrow at the G7 meeting in London, where Iran will be on the agenda.
The US strongly denied separate Iranian claims that a deal involving a US-Iran prisoner swap had been agreed.
The move came as Mr Raab said Iran’s treatment of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe amounted to “torture”, the strongest rhetoric from his government on the case so far. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd)
Telegraph Media Group Limited